Submitter: The cover image attached features an endearing but very old lady who looks way too much like my grandma. I saw this one and laughed because I could just imagine talking to my grandma about condoms, wet dreams, masturbation… (shudder) The details in the book are surprisingly sensitive and well-written, so it was a hard decision to weed it. Ultimately I weeded it because it’s dated, in both appearance and content. I’m also enclosing one page from the section on contraception that shows how dated it is. Time to put this grandma out to pasture and make way for all the other beautifully-illustrated books we’ve gotten recently on sex and puberty.
Holly: The image below may or may not be NSFW, depending on your workplace. Dr. Ruth talks very candidly, with pictures, about contraception in that one. Dr. Ruth Westheimer is 88 years old, and while she is still alive, I don’t know that she is still the person kids turn to for answers about sex. (Or is she? I don’t have kids, and I’m not a children’s librarian either. What say you, parents and youth librarians?) She was absolutely groundbreaking, totally approachable and frank and honest. I’m curious to know if Submitter is familiar with Dr. Ruth? The submission is totally true – she looks like a very nice grandma, but I can’t tell if Submitter is aware of who Dr. Ruth is or not. This book was published in 1993, and I am a child of the 1980s, but this image is exactly how I will always think of Dr. Ruth. I would have asked her anything and not been embarrassed. She was that good at what she did. In fact, it was almost because she looks like a nice grandma that she was so approachable. That said, I’d probably still weed this book. There are different contraceptive options available these days, for one thing.
Submitter: [This book] has not moved off our shelves for years. The language is dated and the topic eyebrow-raising. Despite the author having received two National Endowment for the Arts grants, this book has not aged well.
Holly: There was certainly a place for this in feminist collections back in the day. It got mostly good reviews on Amazon, so it wasn’t the worst choice in 1984. If it is languishing on the shelves untouched for years, though, I can’t see keeping it. I do love the cover!
Submitter: My local public library has three copies of this 1980 love advice book in their system. All 3 copies are in the juvenile collections. So much of this book references current 1980’s topics, or recent stories in the news, that I would be surprised if any young adult would know what they were talking about. Anita Bryant being a good example. There are parts of this book that are still vaguely current, but plenty that are out of date. A few of the gems from this book are:
Pg. 29 – “Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
Pg. 40-41 Guessing who might be a Homosexual.
Pg. 50 – Talking about orange juice siren, Anita Bryant.
Holly:What is it about books in this category that makes librarians not want to weed? The examples in this book are so out of date, as Submitter points out. Attitudes toward sex have changed even since 1980, so books in this category should really reflect the current era. About ten years is all you can realistically expect to get out of books like this. Maaaaybe 20, but definitely not 36.